Wednesday, April 23, 2008

4,000 workers strike in Vietnam


HANOI, Vietnam — More than 4,000 workers walked off the job at a privately owned shoe factory in Ho Chi Minh City, demanding higher pay to keep pace with rising inflation, a company official said Wednesday.
Workers first stopped working last week at the factory in Vietnam's largest city to ask for an increase in their average monthly salary of 850,000 Vietnamese dong ($53), said Nguyen Quang Hung, human resource manager of Hue Phong Footwear Co.
The company agreed to increase their salary 38 percent to 1,170,000 Vietnamese dong ($73). That's about 75 percent higher than the minimum wage for workers at Vietnamese-owned firms.
But the workers then demanded to be fully paid for the five days they were on strike, Hung said.
"We understand that inflation has soared. That was why we agreed on the increase," he said. "But we can only provide them a certain amount for food for the five days they did not work."
Hue Phong has been operating in Ho Chi Minh City since 1994. It currently employs about 6,000 workers. The company produces shoes for export to Europe and elsewhere in Asia.
Consumer prices in Vietnam are 19 percent higher than they were a year ago, according to government figures. A wave of strikes has hit companies across the country over the past few years.
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